1) Frank Bruni is on the Upper East Side this week, for lunch, at Sfoglia. The Restaurants man awards it two stars. The Bruni never met a small, earnest restaurant he didn't like:
Sfoglia puts me in my mind of two other Italian restaurants I admire. One is Spigolo, also on the Upper East Side, also small and also run by a young husband-wife team, with desserts by her. The other is Al di Là, in Park Slope, Brooklyn, which has husband-wife proprietors as well, though the wife, Anna Klinger, is the principal cook there.Also, it's all about lunch for the Bruni; dinner is a circus of regulars—and a regular at a restaurant on 92nd and Lexington he is not.[NYT]
Like Al di Là, Sfoglia hits a sweet spot between simplicity and sophistication, both in its look and its food, and does so now much more ably than it did early last summer, when I encountered erratic food and dismissive service.
What was flawed has since been fixed; what was good has remained so or become better.
2) Mr. $25 and Under himself, Peter Meehan, is at Caffe Falai, Iocopo Falai's new cafe on Lafayette Street. If combined with the Bruni, the Times has you covered for breakfast and lunch this week:
If you work in the area, the place couldn’t be better news: even Gawker staffers probably need a break from breakfast at Balthazar every once in a while. In the morning, there’s a fine roster of baked goods (including a very, very good sfogliatelle) and a selection of baked egg dishes that the kitchen nails.He notes, too, an equally reliable lunch and dinner, though, dinner is only until 8 and still BYO. [NYT]
The variation with eggs, tomato sauce, basil and melted fontina ($9) is probably the most appealing, a good incentive to start the day here with coffee and the paper in the bright, morning-friendly space.
3) And speaking of dinner, Paul Adams is at Rosanjin, the somewhat new haute Japanese restaurant in Tribeca, which originally opened as a delivery service. The chef here is Jungjin Park and he's cooking, well, whatever he pleases:
First to the table came a constellation of four small bowls, all cold. A thin slice of chewy clam and a tiny wedge of brussels sprout in briny jelly occupied the center position. It was flanked by a rosy cube of delicate, rich monkfish liver, on its own in a little pedestaled cup; a bouquet of barely seared raw scallop, superbly fresh, with a sprig of crunchy fried lotus root and a single pomegranate seed, and a dish of mushroom, tofu skin, and a unique honeycomb-like brick of fish roe that burst between the teeth into salty, crunchy fragments. That's just the first course.By way of formal designation, this is kaiseki, 'elegant Japanese art cuisine.' By way of formal price, it's $150 a head and up. [NYS]
Elsewhere, Moira Hodgson two stars Public's annex, The Monday Room; Randall Lane at three stars for East 17th Street's The House; Seitsema on the Senegalese restaurant row of Harlem, where he finds Dibiterie Cheikh; Sutton with the early word on The Inn and GoldBar; Paul Smalera for NY Press at Kyotofu; Strongbuzz at Morandi; Augieland with a pre-review of The Inn; the RG in early at Anthos; and I Eat NY at the Heart Cafeteria.